Tag Archives: learning

Is your training right?

Does the training you enjoy conflict the goal you desire?
 
Well?
 
It’s a simple question and very easy to answer, let me explain by using myself as the example.
 
My goal is strength, with some extra size because everyone wants to look as strong as they are :).
 
Does the training I undergo match this goal?
 
For the strength neurological elements, yes.
 
For the mass gaining, no.
 
Simple.
 
I find that cycling through periodised blocks of training is something I have been terrible at doing in recent years because personally the bodybuilding style of training bores me to tears, however there is only so strong I can get being the size I am, such a conundrum.
 
It is easy to fall in to the trap of doing what we enjoy and while there is not really anything wrong with that, it doesn’t always mean that we will get the results we desire and unless we’re willing to make the changes necessary to our training and perhaps even our nutrition, we’ll just have to settle with what we’ve got.
 
Be nice if there was another answer, there isn’t.
 
If you want a specific outcome you need to take a specific course of action.
 
As not to leave you without anything to test out in the gym I’m going to write out a nice simple routine that will indeed give you the mental stimulation of lifting heavy with the muscle building capacity of reps, you can also use this for fat loss too.
 
Rep/Sets:
 
– 5 singles to a heavy weight for the day
– Back off to 60-80% of that weight
– Do either 5×5 or 1×20
– For strength do workouts 1 & 2 ideally twice per week, if you only have three days to train it would go 1-2-1, 2-1-2 and then repeat.
– For fat loss do workouts 1 & 2 on say Monday/Friday and add in workout 3 on Wednesday, for example.
 
 
Workout 1:
 
A1 – Deadlift
B1 – Press (overhead, dip or bench)
C1 – Chin Up
 
Workout 2:
 
A1 – Squat
B1 – Press (overhead, dip or bench)
C1 – Row
 
Workout 3:
 
A1 – Bodyweight bear hug carry 100-400m
B1 – Farmers Walk 100-400m
C1 – Sprints 5-10×60 second sprints
 
It’s simple, effective, quite fun and will give you results, provided you’re nutrition is appropriate for your goal (mass gain = calorie surplus, fat loss = calorie deficit).
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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2 Reasons the average gym goer doesn’t need to isolate the front deltoid

It’s common place to see people doing front raises in the gym, even though for them it’s essentially a pointless exercise.

I’m not saying it’s a bad exercise, far from it, some top lifters need it as an assistance movement for what ever specific reason, however the average gym goer who has a program heavily biased towards pressing and anterior chain movements DOES NOT need to be doing front raises.

Before we go on let us have a look at some of the exercises that recruit the front deltoid.

  • Presses (pretty much all of them)
  • Bear crawls
  • Planks
  • Sled pushing

The main function of the anterior deltoid is shoulder flexion — lifting your arm up and to the front of your body. So any movement that involves this hits it, make a note.

That’s the first reason you don’t need to isolate this muscle.

The second is because daily life is heavily anterior chain dominant, here is a short list of daily living movements that cause a short/tight/over worked front delt and also high pecs too.

  • Sitting at a desk
  • Eating
  • Driving
  • Playing computer games
  • Putting things on shelves

You get the idea. Life is heavily biased towards overworking what are known as ‘tonic muscles’ of the body and rarely have you stimulating the phasic ones (posterior chain).

For the average person Id recommend having some form of reverse fly in every session and perhaps a lateral raise movement in each pressing session, I can’t remember the exact studies, I apologise, however on average the lateral delt has 2/3 the development of the front and the rear was barely scraping 1/3 of the front delts growth.

You’d also do well to chuck in face pulls, bat wings (isometric holds) and resistance band pull apart drills in your daily life (say 50 pull-aparts per hour and 60 seconds bat wing).

This simple information will help you balance the entire shoulder, it will also help improve your posture and look 100% better, no one likes a round shouldered look, its weak and prone to injury.

Enjoy,

Ross

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3 Easy to apply methods to increase your strength TODAY!

Making changes in body composition is a goal for many people, yet when it comes to doing that you need to increase your base levels of strength.
 
Being stronger allows you to accumulate more total volume, which means more potential for muscle growth.
 
If you have hit a plateau, here are three easy to apply methods to help you boost strength.
 
1 – Dead Starts
 
Stating a press or a squat from the bottom position (a power rack or suit stand pins will be needed) eliminates the eccentric loading/stretch reflex meaning it’s pure neural output and force production, this is a great way to help strength.
 
Pick one movement and focus on this for 2-3 weeks, then change to another movement or a different variation of the lift, this can be quiet draining on the nervous system.
 
Perform said lift 3x per week start off with 8×2 and add a rep until you hit 8×3, use 80%+ of 1RM, rest as much as you need but as little as possible.
 
2 – Pause Reps
 
An old classic but one that is super effective.
 
If you’re pressing or squatting, simply get to the lowers point in the lift and pause there for a minimum of 2-3 seconds (4 is the point where most people lose all potential energy stored by the eccentric portion of the lift), build up to longer pauses over time.
 
So say week 1: 3 seconds, week 2: 4 seconds, week 3: 5 seconds etc.
 
You can also pause pulling movements, the main difference being you pause at the top of the lift (contraction peak), I believe it was Phil Learney who said if you can’t hold at the top for 3 seconds then the weight is too heavy and your back is too weak – other top coaches have said similar and I have to agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Leave your ego & your momentum at the door in pulling movements.
 
If you choose to pause deadlifts stop in either the concentric or eccentric, both are very effective at building strength – aim to pause at your common ‘sticking point’ as that’s where you’re power output is at it’s weakest.
 
2-3 week blocks advised, one lift focus per block.
 
3 – Partial Reps
 
Eek, gasp!
 
Yep, partial reps are a great tool for increasing strength, provided you have the equipment necessary to perform them with good form.
 
Say you have a sticking point, you’d simply set up the bar at the post just before it and just after it and press or squat through that small ROM to build your strength/force output in that area.
 
This could also be done in stages across the entire full ROM of a lift, might look like this:
 
A1 – Press lock out 3×3-5
B1 – 1/2 rep to 3/4 rep and hold (pressing in to the pins on each last rep as hard as possible 3×3-5
C1 – 1/4 rep to 1/2 rep press hold as above 3×3-5
D1 – Bottom of rep to 1/4 rep press hold as above 3×3-5
E1 – Full rep 3×3-5
 
Easy on paper, brutal in practice, but 100% effective in getting stronger.
 
2-4 week block advised, one lift focus per block.
 
Bonus – Cheat Rep & Eccentric Overload
 
A classic cheat rep such as a push press, or cheat curl for example. This allows you to get the lift up to the end ROM and then slowly lower the weight using eccentric training.
 
There you have it, some simple methods you can add to your training to increase your strength today.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Skills Skills Skills

Life is all about acquiring skills.

Think about it.

As kids we learn to crawl, then walk, then run an jump an play which finally lead in to minor sports and activities, however the best part about all that is the sense of achievement, wether you’re aware of it or not.

We like learning new things and more importantly being good at them, training should be no different.

That being said, there are plenty of exercises that people will avoid like the plague not because of a legitimate excuse but for the fact that they’re not good at the moment and it brings their ego down a peg of three.

If we take squatting for example.

A squat is something everyone assumes they can do, nay, they expect they can do, so when someone tries and struggles or perhaps fails to execute it with any good form they get disheartened and start to avoid the movement, usually opting for leg press or machine work.

Squatting is a skill, much the same as pressing, deadlifting, running, jumping, throwing and so on. The only difference is how quickly a person can learn that skill (major injury or medical reasons aside), some take longer than others but that doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

Something I’ve noticed in other people as I’ve gotten older is just how lacking in resilience they are. If something doesn’t happen instantly or go their way from the start they get pissy, make excuses and give up, bot a good trait to have.

Have I ever had the above attitude?

Yep, more times than I’d like to admit, however there’s no sense in lying about it so I might as well learn from it instead.

The main lesson I took away was this; thing take time, some more than others but everything comes with a cost of your time. You just have to pay it, if you really want to achieve anything that is.

I understand how frustrating it can be when things don’t go your way, oh and before you start thinking “I don’t agree with that.” stop, it’s human nature to get the hump when we don’t get what we want, just accept it, no one is here to judge you and if they are then let them, it literally has no effect on your life unless YOU allow it to.

Will you do something for me? Or more aptly put, will you do something for yourself.

Write down 3 skills you want to achieve.

Next, look at each skill and write down what you need to be doing to acquire that skill and HOW you’re going to achieve it.

Lastly, start working towards them.

Don’t give up, almost everything can be learnt/achieved if given enough time, you just have to want it bad enough.

Enjoy,
Ross

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How nutrition is a lot like moving house.

A simple analogy for nutrition that will change the way you think.
 
If you’re driving to a certain destination for let’s say a permanent house move, you know, moving from a 2 bed semi to a 3 bed detached, how do you get there?
 
Easy, by planning a route and continuing to drive towards said destination.
 
If you stop, you don’t get any closer to it.
 
If you turn around and go back to your previous one (the 3 bed semi) you have gone backwards to where you were before in stead of going to your new home (3 bed detached), obviously, which seems silly, doesn’t it.
 
Now apply that to nutrition.
 
You pick a goal.
You move towards your goal by making small sustainable lifestyle.
If you stop making the changes you stop processing.
If you go back to old habits you end up back where you started.
 
^^ How is this hard for people to understand?
 
If you want lasting results you need to make a lasting change.
 
Much like moving home, you don’t upgrade a house and then go back to living in your old one, you change, yet it seems many people think nutrition is an exception to this rule. They make a change, get results and then expect to keep that change by eating as they used to (excessively).
 
Madness.
 
Give the analogy some thought.
 
Do you want to move forwards or stay where you are, because once you go forwards there are then only three options after that.
 
1 – Keep moving forwards, on to a 4 bed (optimal)
2 – Stay where you are because you’re happy, in your 3 bed
3 – Go backwards, returning to your 2 bed semi
 
Your choice.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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2 Gems of Wisdom

I was reading ‘can you go’ by Dan John last night.
 
It’s not a bad read, some nice simple advice and it also gives you a way to see things in a broader perspective when it comes to fitness/nutrition and goal setting.
 
Two things in particular have stood from the pages turned last night.
 
The first point:
 
– If you only had 3 slots of 15min to work out each week to help you achieve your goal, what would you do?
 
A very interesting point to make.
 
The premise behind it was to help people see what was not only necessary but more importantly essential to achieving success.
 
Now you will get a lot of people who immediately jump up and down saying things like “I can;t even warm up in that time.” or “I’d do nothing, it wouldn’t be worth it.” – both of which are actually valid points, however that’s not the purpose of the question.
 
The purpose is one of gaining clarity and prioritising what a person NEEDS to do sos that they actually improve, over what they WANT to do.
 
So who would you use those three 15min slots?
 
For me it would be something like this:
 
Workout 1:
A1 – Squat
A2 – Kettlebell Clean & Press with Load Carry walk
 
Workout 2:
A1 – Deadlift
A2 – Weighted Dip
 
 
Workout 3:
A1 – Clean & Jerk
A2 – Weighted Pull Up
 
1-6 reps depending on the how I felt and crack out as many rounds of each pairing as possible in those 15min.
 
A follow-up from the above.
 
Given what you have just written down, are you doing those things and if not, why not?
 
Surely you should be doing them if they are that important, right…
 
The second point is a nice simple one.
 
– The first step to success is showing up. The second is continuing to show up.
 
A humble lesson in consistency.
 
Let’s say, like above, you can only do 3x15min sessions, if you kept showing up for all of them for an extended period of time you’d get better results in the long run than someone who train intermittently and you’d immediately get better results than those who never start.
 
As a species we are actually quite lazy, don’t worry though, it’s a survival mechanism. We always look to find an easier more productive way to do something, so it’s not all bad because it’s helped us survive over the years.
 
When it comes to the journey of lifting, life & nutrition however, you need to have absolute adherence and plan the coming days accordingly.
 
So tell me, what would you do in your 3x15min sessions a week?
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Sadistic Shoulder Stability

In the days of old how much one could pick up off the floor and hoist over head was the sign of strength, these days it’s the bench press :/.
 
Sad times.
 
That said, shoulders are an often neglected area for a lot of people, keeping this in mind today you will find a two short routines to help you improve your overhead strength/stability 10-fold.
 
Overhead Workout 1: Strength/Size
 
A1 – Clean & Press BB – 8×3
B1 – DB Clean/Press – 5×10
A/B2 – Reverse Fly x12-15 – done in-between each pressing set
 
Overhead Workout 2: Strength/Stability
 
A1 – Clean & Jerk or Push Press 10×2-3
A2 – After last jerk hold locked out overhead and walk 20m
 
^^ (any piece of kit you choose, kettlebells work best)
 
B1 – Handstand Holds 5-10xAs long as possible – try to work up to a solid 30 seconds each hold, once you achieve that stick with 5 rounds of holds and add in some handstand walks.
 
C1 – Face Pulls 10×10
 
 
The first day is aimed at building some good old fashion muscle while the second is all about the lock out stability of the lift.
 
As time goes on you can start to add in partial pressing movements, tricep work to improve pressing power/lock out and even some log pressing – if you have access to one.
 
These seem easy on paper, not so much in practice
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Unconventional 5×5

Everyone knows and loves 5×5, with good reason too.

The 5×5 routine was one that Reg Park used with great success, not to mention Bill Starr and a great many others.

As with anything everyone has their own unique tweaks that put in to play on this basic but brilliant program, each of which work well, here are some examples:

  • 5×5 at set working weight
  • 5×5 – 2×5 warm up (60-80% of working weight) 3×5 at working weight
  • 5×5 – 4 warm up sets to 1 all out set of 5
  • 5×5 – Friday Max out day, working to 1×5 all out, Monday 5×5 at 80% Fridays weight, Wednesday 2×5 at 70-80% Fridays weight
  • Typically the main aim is to hit 25 heavy reps, 80-85% of 1RM is typical.

There are countless more methods and today I would like to give you one that I utilise using extended sets, this will help you improve maximal strength and trigger hypertrophy.

Extended Set 5×5 – Using a harder movement with sub-maximal loading followed by an easier one movement. All total reps add up to the classic 25.

  • 5×2/3

For example:

A1 Extended Set – Front Squat/Squat – 5×2, rack then change bar position, Squat x3 at same weight.

Back Off Set 5×5 – As above, harder vacation of the lift followed by an easier one.

  • 5×2 + 3×5

Example:

A1 – FS 5×2 – B1 Squat 3×5 starting at same weight and increasing as necessary.

High Rep Back Off Set 5×5

  • 5×2 + 15

Example

A1 – 5×2 – B1 Squat 1×15 at the FS weight.

^^ Not classic 5×5 but the 25 rep goal is still hit.

There is nothing magical about these rep/set schemes, they’re just options for you to try.

Enjoy,

Ross

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How to structure a program for all around progress.

There are a lot of different ways to structure a program, typically because of the specific needs of the person it is for, however for those of you who want to achieve the following:

– Strength
– Fitness (improved CV/VO2 Max)
– Better Body Composition (lose body fat & increase lean muscle)
– Improve Mobility/Flexibility
– Aquire Skill
– Improve mental health

This simple structure idea will help you plan your workouts to achieve all of the above.

Program Design 101:

– Warm Up – 5min
– Mobility – 10min
– Strength &/or Skill Element – 20min
– Metabolic Conditioning Section – 15min
– Flexibility Enhancement – 10min
– Warm Down – 5min

Looks simple enough, doesn’t it.

Here is what a workout might look like:

– Skipping
– www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8QxbtcA5hU – Routine example
– A1: Deadlift, A2: Press 5-3-2-5-3-2-5 – Reps dictate the weight
– B1: Loaded Carry 20m, B2: 400m Sprint – AMRAP in 15min
– www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia5ZTVQnsBw -Routine example
– Foam rolling & short meditation

You will notice the workout is nothing special, however it covers multiple facets of fitness for those who want an all round package, rather than an ultra specific one.

How does it all work?

Skipping allows for a nice warm up and also some skill/coordination practice, as does the mobility routine example.

The strength is set in an example of a 5-3-2 wave to allow for muscle potentiation, both exercises hit the major muscle groups of the body. When the metabolic section beings you will gain more strength from the loaded carry along with power/CV/endurance/fat loss from the sprints.

Finally you have a nice example stretching routine followed by some gentle foam rolling and meditation to bring clarity of thought and lower the stress of life.

What is written above isn’t gospel, it’s an example, a good example mind you but ann example never the less. You can adapt it however you see fit.

Enjoy,
Ross

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